Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Beatles, by Bob Spitz

The Beatles, by Bob Spitz
The Beatles, by Bob Spitz

John myths shattered. Ringo is ahhright.

Take the Day off from Angst – Get to know Pompaloose

They way they make the multi-tracking explicit in their videos is brilliant. You will not regret checking out their YouTube channel:

Share the Road, Share the Rage?

What is it about a bicycle?

Heaven knows, I don’t mean to be provocative or radical when I set out on my bike, my backside a brightly colored billboard, my nebbish noggin rocking a hopeful helmet.

I’m just a middle-aged guy who, having ceded the basketball court to younger, fitter men (the President! sigh!), is looking for some age-appropriate fun and exercise. But from the suburban soccer mom, late to corral her better-than-average but shockingly fragile offspring, to the rural teenager succinctly expressing himself with a well-aimed beer bottle, the response is the same: “Get off the d*mn road!” More threat than suggestion, two trials opening this week spell out how deadly a threat it can be.

Dr. Thompsons rear windshield after cyclist crashed through it. Photo by Chris Roberts

Dr. Thompson's rear windshield after cyclist crashed through it. Photo by Chris Roberts

Ron Peterson, whose nose was severed in the Mandeville Canyon incident.

Ron Peterson in the hospital after Mandeville Canyon incident.

In car-crazy Los Angeles, a successful doctor is charged with two counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, having exchanged heated words and then “brake-checked” a group of cyclists on the popular Mandeville Canyon Road, where he lives. Dr. Christopher Thompson, an emergency-room physician, did nothing to aid one cyclist who severed his nose crashing through the car’s rear window, or another who suffered a grade 3 shoulder separation and lay bleeding in the road. Thompson allegedly told responding officers he was “tired of” cyclists and wanted to “teach them a lesson.”

Former Attorney General Michael Bryant. Photo by Daniel Fox via Creative Commons.

Former Attorney General Michael Bryant. Photo by Daniel Fox via Creative Commons.

In bike-loving Toronto, the former Ontario District Attorney, Harvard Law School grad and rising star of Canada’s Liberal Party, Michael Bryant, faces trial for “criminal negligence causing death” and “dangerous driving causing death.” Bryant had a minor collision with a cyclist as he and his wife drove home from a dinner party. Words were exchanged. Bryant tried to drive away, but the cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard, clung to the side of the car. Bryant accelerated to what witnesses described as a very high rate of speed, and steering to the opposite curb, crashed Sheppard’s dangling body into a small tree, and then head first into a mailbox, killing him.

Who knew a simple bicycle ride could occasion such violence and anger? But then, we shouldn’t be surprised. This is, after all, the era of the town hall crier, of the second Brooks Brothers riot, the death throes of a decrepit political order upon us certain as $5 gasoline. Rage is all the rage. And whether we like it or not, bikes are suddenly a symbol, provocative as a liberal president. Still, I plan to ride again tomorrow.

[Note: This article was written for the Washington Post’s “America’s Next Pundit” contest.]

Enhanced surveillance video of the Toronto incident:

Witness statement from the Toronto incident:

Tea-Bagger Update

For those who still can’t get the connection between the tea-baggers and those, like the Little Rock “race-mixing” protestors here, this woman makes the connection for you. It’s the language — “anti-christ socialism” “G*d says so”, etc. — and, as any linguist will tell you, the consonant thought processes that give rise to this familiar language.

I especially love the comment, “it’s only the politicians that make these issues political.” Because taxes are a – uh – religious, not a political issue, I guess.

And this was at a rally protesting Lindsey Graham, of all people, organized in part by “RINO (that’s “Republicans in Name Only” for the uninitiated) Hunt.” The sin that makes Graham a “socialist anti-christ” now? Voting to confirm Sonia Sotomayor. ‘Cause we all know Jeebus don’t speak no stinking Spanish.

It’s almost enough to make you sympathetic to Graham. But only almost enough. He played this crowd to his advantage throughout the 2008 campaign. So he reaps what he sows. Maybe if these lunatics continue to attack Republican elected officials more Repubs will grow some cojones and start calling them as they see them. A dangerous, armed, out-of-control rabble.

Hell Freezes Over

Another 2nd Amendment Absolutist Killed with Own Gun

Melanie Hains daughter caresses moms 9mm.
Melanie Hains’ daughter caresses mom’s 9mm.

A Pennsylvania mother who became famous for open carrying her 9mm to an elementary school soccer game — guess you never know when those refs need a little reminder, eh? — was shot to death by her husband, with one of her own guns, live on the Internet, this past Friday night. CNN’s coverage is here.

Revocation of Hains’ carry permit was controversial among other 2nd Amendment absolutists. The post at Dustin’s Gun Blog is typical:
I guess that Sheriff DeLeo just doesn’t like soccer moms to be armed for the defense of themselves or their children so he abused his authority in an illegal fashion. I hope she sues & wins enough to buy herself a case of her favorite lipstick & a couple of extra firearms of her own choosing paid for courtesy of the citizens who elected DeLeo. Perhaps in the next election they’ll choose more wisely.

Seems the sheriff found she might act in a “manner dangerous to the public safety.” Well, he doesn’t seem to have been far from the truth after all, eh?

Can’t figure out the difference between warehousing weapons to avoid “government tyranny” and total crazy carry-anywhere, anytime madness? Can’t rest until you can carry in national parks, bars, restaurants and college classrooms? Well, here’s a little glimpse of some 2nd Amendment happiness you too can enjoy on your next night out:

Does this stuff — and all the college and high school shootings, the guy who “shot the intruder, but the intruder was my wife,” this past weekend — make me reflexively and unapologetically call for systematic handgun control? You bet it does. And the reason you know I’ll have this response is: It’s the only response that makes any sense.

“This is an Illegal Assembly”

First Amendment? We don’t need no stinking First Amendment!

This is also what going to work on West 34th Street felt like during the Republican National Convention in 2004, having to pass a phalanx of armored personnel carriers and military-equipped police, carry and present identification and be subject to interrogation for going out for a sandwich.

Where are the tea-baggers when you really need them?

Other People’s Money 4 – Can’t Say it Better Myself

Great reporting from Sunday’s New York Times. Read the whole story here.

The average investor left out in the cold again. (Photo by Канопус Киля, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The average investor left out in the cold again. (Photo by Канопус Киля, via Wikimedia Commons.)

In many ways, what private equity firms did at Simmons, and scores of other companies like it, mimicked the subprime mortgage boom. Fueled by easy money, not only from banks but also endowments and pension funds, buyout kings like THL upended the old order on Wall Street. It was, they said, the Golden Age of private equity — nothing less than a new era of capitalism.

These private investors were able to buy companies like Simmons with borrowed money and put down relatively little of their own cash. Then, not long after, they often borrowed even more money, using the company’s assets as collateral — just like home buyers who took out home equity loans on top of their first mortgages. For the financiers, the rewards were enormous.

Twice after buying Simmons, THL borrowed more. It used $375 million of that money to pay itself a dividend, thus recouping all of the cash it put down, and then some.

A result: THL was guaranteed a profit regardless of how Simmons performed. It did not matter that the company was left owing far more than it was worth, just as many people profited from the mortgage business while many homeowners found themselves underwater.

Investors who bought that debt are getting virtually nothing in the new deal.